There has been a lot of hype lately about this “Pioneer generation package” culminating in to-day’s ST (11 Feb) with a prominent article titled “Pioneers’ health-care package ‘has right focus’.

The article began with:

“When Singapore’s pioneer generation started working , there was no Medisave, no MediShield and no MediFund. Salaries were low and people had to retire early”.

I can attest to the fact that this is utter rubbish! I am 75 years old and I definitely qualify as one of the ‘ pioneer generation’. Let me enlighten you to what it was like when I started working. It was 1960 and it was nothing like what they have been telling you. IT WAS BETTER THAN WHAT IT IS NOW!

Thank God we didn’t have Medisave, MediShield or MediFund. We could take care of ourselves, thank you. Yes, we could pay our hospital bills without any of these Medi jokes as medical care was REALLY affordable.

And if you are a in Government service, it’s even better. You get what is commonly called “government quarters” practically free. Free hospitalisation. Pension for life. AND ALL THIS UNDER A BRITISH COLONIAL GOVERNMENT. AND WE DROVE OUT THE BRITISH AND GOT INSTEAD THE PAP!

I made all of $440/- (plus cola) a month as a Technical Assistant in what was then known as the Telecommunications Department. “COLA” is “cost of living allowance’ in case you are not familiar with the term.

Salaries may be low then, but everything was AFFORDABLE. I could even get a loan from the Chartered Bank to buy a secondhand car with my “low” salary!

Returning to the article, what was incredulous was the statement that “people HAD to retire early” – as if “retiring early” was such a bad thing.


Sure there were poor people then. Same as we have poor people to-day. So what’s new! They just want you believe that the pioneer generation lived and work in abject poverty. Not true! Life was relatively good, considering that we had just come out from the war.

You see how they try to brainwash you into believing that the pioneer generation days were horrible and everybody HAD TO RETIRE EARLY and now it’s great to retire at the age of 62.

Just because our life expectancy is now 82 years, it does not mean we have to work till we are 62 to SURVIVE!

The other thing I notice about the article is that it tells you nothing about this “package”. How can you give a glowing account to something when all you have are words like:

“The package provides life-long financial support in 3 areas:

Premium subsidy for the new MediShield Life insurance scheme
Extra subsidies for outpatient treatment at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics and GPs under CHAS.
Annual top-up to Medisave account, which helps to pay MediShield Life premiums”
“Life-long financial support” – Are you sure you know what THEY mean? Be careful before you answer – remember a “pledge” is not a loan, and “as soon as possible” is whenever I like.

But going by what I consider an obscene joke played senior citizens at the Istana, I don’t harbour much hope for anything substantial.


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